PATH study confirms that e-cigarettes are less addictive than cigarettes.
Many studies have already proved that e-cigarettes are a significant amount safer than smoking tobacco, but bad publicity and misinformation in mainstream media perpetuates negative ideology towards vaping, leaving many health experts eagerly awaiting the first results from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study, which have been published in Preventive Medicine.
Funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Center for Tobacco Products, the study is made up of a national survey of tobacco use by over 30,000 young and mature adult participants. Researchers filtered the responses given to leave them with regular smokers and vapers, leaving a total of 3,586 participants – 5% of whom were vapers and the other 95% were smokers. Out of the 5% who vaped, 93% were ex-smokers whilst the remaining 7% had only experimented with cigarettes.
“No doubt about it, e-cigarettes are addictive, but not at the same level as traditional cigarettes.”
Researches found that vapers tend to use their e-cigarettes later in the morning, whereas smokers seem to have a cigarette upon waking up. In addition, vapers were found to have to experience less cravings, found it easier to not use vape products in restricted areas and were less likely to view themselves as addicts.
All of the participants included in the survey were specifically chosen as they were considered as dependent on e-cigarettes or cigarettes due to regular use. However the study’s lead author, Guodong Liu, an assistant professor of public health sciences, said that the findings clearly indicate that vapers are not as addicted to their products as smokers. “No doubt about it, e-cigarettes are addictive, but not at the same level as traditional cigarettes,” said Liu.
Survey participants were chosen specifically to fit the brief of being ‘dependent’ on e-cigarettes or cigarettes (due to regular use). Despite this, the study’s lead author, Guodong Liu, a public health science assistant professor, said that it’s clearly indicated in the findings that vapers are not as addicted to their e-cigarette products as smokers. Liu went on to say there’s “no doubt about it, e-cigarettes are addictive, but not at the same level as traditional cigarettes.”
Many health professionals have been trying to put across a message that vape products should be endorsed, yet regulated, as harm reduction tools for smoking cessation – a view that is confirmed by this study.
Set to be carried out are follow up studies, where participants will be asked to hand in samples of blood and urine to ensure their nicotine levels are in agreeance with their self-diagnosed dependence. Researchers also plan to analyse users of both e-cigarettes and combustible cigarettes, so to view a complete spectrum of vapers.
Liu went onto say that they “suspect that most e-cigarette users are either experimental users or dual users of e-cigarettes and at least one type of traditional tobacco product, like cigarettes” Researchers “want to learn if dual users’ dependence levels differ from each other and also from exclusive e-cigarette or cigarette users.”
Results could influence current FDA policies.
“This will be the first time we’ll be able to look at this phenomenon longitudinally,” Liu said. “Before that, almost all of the surveys were cross-sectional, meaning they were just snapshots.”
PATH study findings are expected to have direct influence on the regulations of e-cigarettes in the future, indicating that the current harsh regulations imposed by the FDA could possibly be reversed as a result.
Liu G., Wasserman E., Kong L., & Foulds J. A comparison of nicotine dependence among exclusive E-cigarette and cigarette users in the PATH study. Preventive Medicine, 2017